Monday, November 15, 2010
The king of American players, the most talented pool player of the last 30 years and the most misunderstood, would have to be Earl Strickland. Eight years removed from winning a major title, Earl pocketed the final 10 ball to win the Steve Mizerak Pro Tour Championship undefeated. He beat, Barbagallo 9-4, Rodney Morris 9-2, Palmari 9-2, Mika Immonen 9-6, Darren Appleton 9-8 and Shawn Putnam 9-5 and in the finals again 11-6. Unlike other players, Earl has not only to win against the opponent, but also win the battle over controlling himself, which in the past has proven to be the more difficult challenge. His patented break and run, "up tempo" playing style that makes him a fan favorite was not in evidence on the final days of this title hunt, as the break failed repeatedly and the cue ball often scratched. Earl won this title on experience and good decisions, displaying the maturity of his 49 years of age. This match is set to air on Fox Sports Dec. 11th, and 13th, in High Definition which is great for pool, but the commentator's facial blemishes really are more apparent than you realize until it is too late. The final match is a race to 11 games, but Earl thinks that the match is to 9 games and then wins his 9th game, raises his cue over head and yells, "I did it!" He then goes to shake hands with an unamused Shawn Putnam who just sits there looking irritated, but finally has to share a laugh as he realizes Earl has made a sincere mistake. Earl's facial expression is really priceless and is captured along with his self commentary during rack 15. After sharing much of my pool life with Earl, I was really happy for him to reclaim some of his past glory and I must tell you that he is not the terrible person many others portray him to be. He is very passionate regarding the sport and sometimes expresses his feelings poorly and without thinking through the perception of his statements. I have been frustrated at times with his antics, but I have also seen him do some of the most benevolent acts of kindness for people that does not get mentioned. I am of the opinion that if you are a selfish person, I may still like you but you will have to be without other flaws. If you are a generous person, and especially if you love pool, then I can forgive many other faults, as I myself am not even perfect. This was another great accomplishment, in such a class event, ... long live the king.